Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Develop Programs or People?

Too many in schools believe that buying new programs will boost teaching/learning. While I believe that good programming can lead to better results, I think it's more important to look holistically at teaching/learning with good analysis first.

As I write, I'm thinking of an effort at play in a school system I've learned about, but don't work in. Their scores were low so they quickly purchased a new program for all educators without a deep look at statistics and data.

To truly uplift a teaching/learning community, you first have to analyze what's happening with detail. How do you do that analysis?

First, look at all the data? Who is achieving according to the data and who is not? Where is achievement happening and why? Look deeply at the classrooms and teachers for whom achievement seems to be happening. Notice the demographics of those classrooms and teachers with regard to gender, culture, class, interests, at-home support, language, extracurricular activities, sports/health and more. What trends do you see? Is there little achievement anywhere or are there pockets of tremendous achievement? Do some cultures, classes, genders, interest-groups achieve better? If so, why? Take a deep look.

Next share that deep look with stakeholders. Say, this is what the statistics show, do you agree or don't you agree? Why or why not? What stories, details, and events are the details missing? How can you help us to understand this data better, what can you add?

Then utilizing stakeholders' observations/reactions and the data, see what's missing, and what might make a difference to the overall program. How can you use dollars, programming, educators, structure, technology, other tools and strategies to better boost learning and achievement--what really matters?

Propose and try out trial programs. Track the efforts. Continue to analyze both formally and informally to decide what's working and what is not working. Continue to grow.

To simply buy new programs as quick fixes to teaching/learning problems is short-sighted. What really matters is the analysis that informs next steps. The world of learning and teaching will change continuously, and the best way to respond to that is to institute regular routines of analysis and development. It's not people or programs, but instead process that matters most.